How do pros cope with Phase One gear being so unreliable?

Questions, comments and suggestions regarding Phase One IQ4, IQ3, IQ2 and IQ1 series digital camera backs.

How do pros cope with Phase One gear being so unreliable?

Postby David Cohen de Lara » Sat May 23, 2015 11:30 am

I'm in the middle of a 7 day commercial shoot, and again I'm shit out of luck with my Phase One gear. I knew before I started that a Phase One system wasn't going to make it through 7 consecutive days of shooting without giving up and I was right. On the third day the back locked up the body, and then when I put it on the backup body it locked that up as well. Luckily it was a weekday so my dealer came over to the studio and managed to fix the problem.

A few minutes ago my Schneider-Kreuznach lens had its aperture blades lock up. This has happened to me four or five times with different SK lenses, so I know from experience this is not something that can be fixed on site, and even if it could my dealer is closed on Saturdays. And like a fool I came to the shoot without a backup of that lens so I have the choice of shooting the rest of the week on the 80mm (of which I did bring two), or saying screw it and shooting everything on the Nikon system.

How do other pros manage to work with Phase One gear? Do you just bring two backups of everything and hope that's enough? How do you deal with the time wasted replacing gear while the client breathes down your neck? How do you cope with all the lost shots and lost time due to Phase One gear malfunctioning? Are you tempted to switch to a more reliable system like Nikon or Canon? What's holding you back from making the switch?
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Re: How do pros cope with Phase One gear being so unreliable?

Postby Keith Reeder » Sat May 23, 2015 12:01 pm

You've banged on and on about Phase One's unreliability, and yet you still use it.

Dunno if I'd hire a "pro" who insists on using such flaky gear. Not very professional to insist on using such supposedly unreliable kit.

And as to the subject line of this thread - essentially asked and answered already.

Either deal with the "problem" or move on.
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Re: How do pros cope with Phase One gear being so unreliable?

Postby NN159009UL4 » Sat May 23, 2015 12:12 pm

Given the pace of P1 product development and the number of (or lack of) blog postings related to MF gear, the market appears to be making a definitive statement on this issue that will only increase in volume in the coming months.
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Re: How do pros cope with Phase One gear being so unreliable?

Postby David Cohen de Lara » Sat May 23, 2015 5:39 pm

Keith Reeder wrote:You've banged on and on about Phase One's unreliability, and yet you still use it.

Dunno if I'd hire a "pro" who insists on using such flaky gear. Not very professional to insist on using such supposedly unreliable kit.

Either deal with the "problem" or move on.


Nice touch putting "pro" and "problem" in quotation marks, as if to suggest that I'm not really a professional photographer or that constant gear malfunctions are not really a problem. I am, and they are.

Keith Reeder wrote:Either deal with the "problem" or move on.


I've been dealing with the problem ever since I bought my Phase One equipment. I would love to 'move on' and switch to a more reliable system, but subjectively I like the look I'm getting with Phase One so I'm hesitant to lose that. I'm trying to figure out a way to keep shooting Phase One that doesn't involve carrying double backups of every part of the system and constant trips to my dealer. I travel a lot for work so both the backups and the dealer trips can be very impractical. I am curious how other professionals handle this, so that's why I'm asking.
Last edited by David Cohen de Lara on Sat May 23, 2015 10:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How do pros cope with Phase One gear being so unreliable?

Postby Keith Reeder » Sat May 23, 2015 9:56 pm

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Re: How do pros cope with Phase One gear being so unreliable?

Postby David Cohen de Lara » Sat May 23, 2015 10:34 pm

Fair enough, ignore the frustration that is clearly apparent from my post. I'm still genuinely curious as to how other professionals make this camera system work for them. Rule number 10 says that this is a "user to user help and resource area", and that is exactly what I'm looking for. My question to other professionals is: How do you do cope with this? Which methods have you put in place to deal with your equipment failing on a regular basis? How do you deal with clients when you need to stop a shoot because your camera locked up again? What do you do if you have a multiple day shoot hours away from the nearest city large enough to have a dealer or rental house? How many backups do you carry of everything, and how do you manage to fly with all of it?

I would ask the photographers I know, for instance at my European and Australian agents. But most of them have either switched to Canon / Nikon, or if they do shoot MF they exclusively use rental gear so that all the malfunctions are the rental company's problem. I realise both of these options are open to me, but also want to investigate options that don't involve selling my equipment.
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Re: How do pros cope with Phase One gear being so unreliable?

Postby Ulf » Thu May 28, 2015 7:51 am

David

If there is some kind of unreliability then contact your Phase One reseller to have it resolved.
Also you can contact us as well.

To make post after post on a user to user forum resolves absolutely nothing,
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Re: How do pros cope with Phase One gear being so unreliable?

Postby David Cohen de Lara » Sat May 30, 2015 7:37 am

Hi Ulf,

As you know have been in contact with my dealer and/or with Phase One a great number of times. Specific problems are always resolved by returning the gear and having it either serviced or replaced.

What I'm looking for on the forum is experiences from other users that can help me do two things: a) estimate how common or uncommon my this frequency of failure is compared to other users and b) find best practices that can help me keep using my Phase One gear in a professional setting.

Thanks,
David
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Re: How do pros cope with Phase One gear being so unreliable?

Postby photoGrant » Tue Jun 02, 2015 12:57 am

We solve it by just using their back's and using Hasselblad's bodies.

That's not to say there isn't problems with Hassy. That's a world of hurt in its own. But it's the best combination we've had for reliability. And I use the term 'reliability' still very loosely as I've never in my experience come across a MF system that operates with the tenacity and prowess of a dSLR system.

Hopefully some day soon the sensor war will be over and we'll be working out which body we want based on its specific features as opposed to the output file. Take a look at the Digital Cinema Camera's that are all flowing now.

Interesting times ahead. Those with their head in the sand will likely not leave from that position until it's too late.
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Re: How do pros cope with Phase One gear being so unreliable?

Postby David Cohen de Lara » Wed Jun 03, 2015 1:39 am

Thanks for that insight. I don't think I'll switch to switch to Hasselblad, because like you say that certainly wouldn't be the end of all problems. Even if Hasselblad is slightly more reliable than Phase One, I've heard plenty of nightmare stories from Hasselblad shooters as well.

What I'm doing for now is shooting my Nikon D800 system as much as I can while leaving the Phase One at home except when I really need it. I don't like the D800's viewfinder and its silly 2:3 aspect ratio, but other than that it's an absolute joy to shoot compared to the Phase and I've had zero problems with Nikon cameras in a decade of shooting. I prefer the files of the Phase One but for a lot of things I do I don't think the client would notice.

I'm keen to hear how other people make Phase One work for them in a professional context, so if anyone else has workarounds or best practices that have proven useful, please share.
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Re: How do pros cope with Phase One gear being so unreliable?

Postby photoGrant » Thu Jun 04, 2015 9:51 pm

You could also do what most other professionals do -- hire a DIT.
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Re: How do pros cope with Phase One gear being so unreliable?

Postby mgerardw » Wed Jun 10, 2015 6:18 pm

"my dealer came over to the studio and managed to fix the problem"
I'm just curious.... what was the problem?

Your frustrations and criticisms are couched in a what feels like a disingenuous question as it appears you are merely looking for others to corroborate/validate your poor experience with Phase. You are clearly very, very good at what you do...I would suggest just moving on instead of banging your head against the same wall. At some point you're bound to knock yourself out. It hardly seems worth your time, effort or the professional embarrassment to continually work with a system that prevents you from doing your job...no matter how awesome the files look.

As for myself I have rarely had a problem with my Phase One system..the camera, lenses or backs (and I've owned 3). The very few problems I have encountered have not been serious were the result (in some cases) of my own stupidity. That said any issues have been resolved by either reading info on this forum, contacting my dealer or simply removing the batteries and popping them back in. Not that anyone is asking, but I've found Phase to be pretty damn reliable.....
Good luck and keep up your good work!
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Re: How do pros cope with Phase One gear being so unreliable?

Postby Keith Reeder » Wed Jun 10, 2015 6:54 pm

Nicely put!
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Re: How do pros cope with Phase One gear being so unreliable?

Postby flashsplash » Fri Jun 19, 2015 6:11 pm

Well how do we deal with it ?

Very simple:
-Use verified gear
-Make sure that body and back are having the correct firmware versions
-Make sure that both are matched
-Use good batteries, and renew them every so often
-Check the amount of clicks the lens and body has, and if over its anticipated value get them overhauled.(not like a DSLR hat -lasts > 200.000 clicks , here we are talking 100.000 max).
-Get certified, and you will learn on how to deal with issues

Of course I have no idea what back you have and body.

For me, and I am shooting since 3 years with PO and never had an issue that I could not resolve. Sure it can lock-up, just remove alle batteries (body and back) disconnect lens and back. Put all back together , insert well charged batteries and it will fly again in 95% of the cases.....

Kind regards,

Steve
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Re: How do pros cope with Phase One gear being so unreliable?

Postby Paqart » Fri Sep 25, 2015 1:28 pm

I've had quite a few lockups with my Phase One kit, but I also had similar problems with my Nikon gear. In both cases, fixing the problem usually doesn't take more than ten minutes and often takes a lot less. It is frustrating when it happens the first time and you don't know what is going on, but if you can find a workaround, it isn't a problem.

With my DF+, it will periodically give the error DB CAP and then stop taking pictures. Popping the batteries out and then back in for the camera and back solves it and then I'm back to shooting. Last weekend, my lens starting focusing and re-focusing over and over again. I couldn't shoot, manual focus didn't fix it, nor did popping the batteries. Removing the digital back and then re-attaching it did solve the problem, for a total loss of about five minutes. I think the cause of that problem was that my cable release got jammed at an odd angle, making the camera think the shutter release was pressed halfway. Regardless, problem was solved quickly.

My D800 has a problem with my Zeiss 15mm lens. I thought it was because of the weight, but it has no trouble with the Zeiss Otus 55mm which is just as heavy, so it may be the torque or the way it fits into the F-mount. When that lens is attached, the f-stop and shutter speed dials will sometimes reset to their default values and become fixed at that point. Also, it won't fire a shot. Fixing it is a matter of reseating the battery or reattaching the lens. Either way, it is a quick fix but it was very frustrating when I first encountered it.

I have only sent the Phase One camera in once for repair, because it had a few dead pixels on the sensor. In the meantime, they sent a replacement so I had no downtime at all.

AP
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